8 Major Dress Trends That Will Be Everywhere This Autumn

Given the perplexing forecast this summer, we're already hot on the heels of autumn at Who What Wear UK. The change in seasons is afoot and autumnal dress trends have begun to dominate prematurely. An influx of our favourite ready-to-wear pieces from February's runways have been landing on luxury retailer sites and have inspired the high street alike. Like the micro mini was to S/S 22, dresses spearheaded 2023’s autumn/winter shows. As a dedicated lover of frocks, it’s cause for celebration and an invitation to bring forth my favourite styles, give or take some seasonal adjustments.

Dress offerings for the coming season are nothing short of inspirational. They're unapologetically baroque, and a variety of styles were forecast at the shows. Designs showcased comprised jewel tones, feather adornments and gauzy fabrics in excess, to name but a few of the flourishes designers blessed us with. Styles from Christopher Kane to Chanel took to the runway in elongated proportions, sheer fabrics and partywear-inspired looks to bookmark for (dare I say it) end-of-year celebrations.

Channelling the "more is more" sentiment and bulbous corsage detailing of this summer, autumn dress trends have transitioned to styles of a similar ilk but with darker hues and autumn-appropriate textures. "Main-character" dressing has inspired an influx of avant-garde and wonderfully lurid styles. Adornments have become the protagonist of dressing, and an appreciation of flowers (we mustn’t forget Loewe or Ludovic de Saint Sernin's anthurium tributes in the spring) has preserved and paved the way for myriad adornments. Florals have been joined by '20s-style feather gowns, ruffles, peplum shapes and frothy tulle, courtesy of Zimmerman and Paul & Joe, to name but a few.

Designers continued to revert to throwback heroes like the ‘90s slip dress, proving the longstanding appeal of Y2K-inspired fashion, though this year it boasts a mature and refined feel that lovers of classic styles can appreciate.

I’ve assessed the autumn 2023 dress trends to bring you nine styles that are guaranteed to inspire this autumn. Keep reading to discover the dress trends that will be dominating fashion in the upcoming season.

1. Swathed in Silk

It's no secret that luxury designers favour lustrous fibres. An adoration for silk, satin and sumptuously soft fabrics has infiltrated the whole fashion year, and autumn 2023 has inspired a wave of cocooned and swathed iterations of bias cuts. The more fabric, the better.


(Image credit: Courtesy Tove)

Style Notes: Silk silhouettes have been lauded for many seasons, and as we edge closer to autumn, they become even more prominent. I'll be styling svelte silhouettes with ballerina shoes. 

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2. Moody Florals

Who What Wear UK's managing editor Poppy Nash is a lifelong-lover of floral dresses, so she, for one, is all over moody florals for autumn. "I've always been a floral-dress girl, but traditionally the print is—at least in my wardrobe—reserved for summer. This season however, I'll be introducing grungy, moodier iterations of my favourite pattern into my cold-weather repertoire, whether that's via a midi dress paired with black, knee-high boots and leather details or a mini worn with barely-there heels. Some of the standout moments for the trend on the A/W 23 runways included modest, roll-neck dresses in New York courtesy of Veronica Beard; and free-flowing gowns in London from Paul & Joe," says Poppy. 


(Image credit: Courtesy Di Pesta)

Style Notes: One thing is guaranteed in the cyclical world of fashion, and it's that moody florals will make an appearance come autumn. Lean into the unpolished look with a boxy leather jacket over your dresses. 

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3. Ruched Elements

Make way for Grecian-inspired wrap designs and cocoon shapes. Bandeau necklines were a hit this summer, and continue to be seen throughout autumnal dress offerings, complete with longer sleeves and generous swathes of fabric.

"Ruching is the Y2K trend I never thought I'd see again, but lo and behold, it's suddenly everywhere once more… and I kind of love it," says Who What Wear UK's affiliate editor, Emily Dawes. "On dresses, it feels like a natural progression from the second-skin column dresses we saw everywhere last year, thanks to Loewe. The addition of draped details this year feels much more flattering and, to be honest, interesting. I love how designers (and high street brands) are getting imaginative with their ruched designs for autumn 2023, and I certainly plan on investing in this trend that feels both modern and classic."


(Image credit: Courtesy Tory Burch)

Style Notes: Mix and match textures when cooler seasons arrive. Why not pair bustier styles with an organza top underneath?

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4. Exuberant Adornments

Cold weather calls for design features that veer towards the exuberance of party season. Feather trims, corsages, sequins and taffeta are some of the details highlighted by designers, which all come under the umbrella of adornments. Chanel, Zimmerman and Burberry showcased these styles, and we mustn't forget Noir Kei Ninomiya's offerings, which wholly evoke "more is more".


(Image credit: Courtesy Faber)

Style Notes: This style calls for streamlined accessories, muted tones and pared-back beauty looks.

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5. Lingerie on Show

Designers agree that lingerie is far too precious to be hidden, transforming it into floor-length gowns with the most delicate appliqué threadwork. Armani, Alexander Wang and Bally are a few of many that backed this trend.


(Image credit: Courtesy Zimmerman)

Style Notes: This season, many styles are exuberant enough that they don't require much fuss. With lingerie dresses, nipple covers will be your best friend.

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6. Sheer on Show

The season for organza, tulle and netted overlays is fast approaching, and for autumn 2023, designers including Miu Miu, Gucci and Christian Siriano embraced sheer elements. 

"Okay, it might not be for everyone, but there's something about the risqué allure of a sheer dress that has been shaking up the runways for the last couple of years, and I'm wholeheartedly on board," says Remy Farrell, Who What Wear UK's shopping editor. "Granted, it isn't a dress for running errands, but you can't beat the head-turning prowess of the barely-there evening dress, and everyone from brides to influencers are turning to see-through styles for a look that stands out from the crowd. Whether you step into Nensi Dojaka-esque slips or pile on frothy layers of tulle à la Molly Goddard, the sheer dress is an expression of self-love and unashamed confidence. And who doesn't want to subscribe to that?"


(Image credit: Courtesy Miu Miu)

Style Notes: At first glance this trend may seem hard to wear, but it's a style to be embraced as one that celebrates the body (if that's something you're into). Granted, it's daring, but for autumn and winter, you can pair transparent dresses with full-coverage underwear or a slip underlay.

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7. Va-Va Volume

The '50s babydoll dress has been thrust into the limelight, this time with a modern update. It's now a reimagined style with a "grown-up" appeal—part whimsical aesthetic, part formal. We owe this to longline bustiers with drop-waist features. It's a ballerina frock for the modern woman that oozes joie de vivre and boasts a nostalgic appeal.

Hannah Almassi, Who What Wear UK's editor-in -chief, is extra pleased to see the return of the babydoll. "Ever since I invested in a full-skirted dress from Esse Studios last year, I haven't wanted to wear anything but this silhouette! It works for my hourglass figure to have something that fits at the waist and is swishy around the hips and thighs. It's romantic, but you can keep things minimal and chic by opting for block colours, elevated fabrics and styles with very few frills or adornments," she says. 


(Image credit: Courtesy House of Dagmar)

Style Notes: Complement full-volume skirting with a sleek hairstyle and streamlined footwear. The skirt's wide circumference does all the talking, so you needn't work too hard on the rest.

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8. Flesh Tones

Camel shades are often associated with functionality (overcoats and knitwear, for example) but a number of 2023's iterations boast an elevated and directional appeal—from peek-a-boo gapes to thigh-high splits, the A/W 23 shows demonstrated the myriad ways to elevate sepia-toned knits.


(Image credit: Courtesy Ester Manas)

Style Notes: Pair caramel-hued frocks with brownish accessories for a contemporary, tonal look.

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Next Up: Experts Agree: These Autumn/Winter 2023 Fashion Trends Really Count

Freelance Fashion Editor

Avalon Afriyie is a freelance writer and storyteller based in London. She specialises in sustainable fashion, health and the narratives of marginalised communities. She has a background in fashion show production and styling, having previously worked on The Clothes Show and with the Lyst Group. Since graduating in 2013 with a BA (Hons) in English and contemporary media, she’s worked as a feature writer for an independent publication and a contributor for Quill’s creator network. She now marries her passion for words and style, writing for some of the most esteemed fashion and lifestyle publications, Who What Wear UK and Stylist. Avalon also provides copywriting services, creative consultancy, and visual media for independent businesses, including travel guides, interviews, press releases and blog posts. Her work has been featured on Lush, Contiki, Youswim and Ohne. She spends her days writing to her heart’s content for business and pleasure, shooting on film and dreaming of residing a stone’s throw away from the ocean with her love and a pup (clad in a sweeping frock, of course). She’s currently penning ideas for a book of personal essays and free verse poetry on love, life and the stages in between.